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Tormaschy brothers to help out on family farm

RICHARDTON -- Growing up, Tobey and Jason Tormaschy always dreamed of taking over the family farm where they grew up.

In May, following his college graduation from Dickinson State University, where he double-majored in chemistry and natural resources management, Tobey will take the first steps to making his dream come true.

"I've wanted to work on the farm, but I wasn't really sure how I wanted to do it," Tobey, 24, said. "Then my grandma was interested in getting out of the dairy. Nobody else was really interested in it and I kind of just stepped up to the plate."

Right on Tobey's heals will be his 22-year-old brother, Jason, who graduates from DSU in December with a degree in natural resource management.

"Ever since I was a little boy I've wanted to take over the farm or start farming on my own if I could," Jason said. "It just, for me, is the enjoyment of being outdoors and working with the animals. Just the enjoyment of doing what I love to do."

Tobey and Jason's father, Vern, summed up him and his wife Kathy's feelings on the boys taking over the farm.

"I think it will be a pretty neat deal," Vern said.

Vern grew up just north of where his family currently lives and his parents; Victor and Lucille, still run their dairy farm. Tobey will take the reins of the dairy from his grandparents after he graduates.

Kathy, like Vern, grew up on a dairy farm near Manning and her parents and two brothers operate a dairy today.

"I've definitely milked cows all my life," Kathy said with a laugh.

The couple met through one of Kathy's cousins in 1977. During their courtship, Kathy worked as a waitress and part time taking pictures of people's farmsteads from an airplane. Vern worked in the oil fields, but eventually went back to work on the farm.

"In '78, I worked in the oil fields and I didn't like that at all, so in the spring of '79 I came back to the farm, that was enough of that," Vern said.

Kathy and Vern got married in 1982, and moved out onto their own farm, where they now live. They said that when they first moved to the farm there wasn't much there.

"We pretty much built this place up from scratch," Kathy said of the farm they raised their two sons and one daughter, Kristy, 19.

Vern said he isn't too worried about his boys, stating that when you really look at it, things aren't that different today then when he started in the 80s.

"You just do what you've got to do and get it done," Vern said.

One thing that has changed since Vern and Kathy started farming is the price of land along with the price of inputs.

"The biggest thing is being able to get going," Tobey said. "With the cost of inputs and stuff, it's going to take a lot to be able to get myself established and start making money."

The help of Vern's parents and their machinery was instrumental to the early success of Vern and Kathy's farming operation.

Kathy said there was an understanding that they would provide the labor and Vern's parents would provide the machinery. This allowed the Tormaschys to put away much needed money and build their operation.

Kathy envisions a similar set-up for when her children take over.

"Hopefully with us it's the same way," Kathy said. "We'll provide the machinery and they'll provide the labor...That's the way it's always been, we've always helped each other out."

The diversification of their operation also helps the Tormaschys. They farm, planting mostly wheat and a little barley, raise beef cattle, and dairy. When one market is poor, typically one of the others is strong.

"It helps a lot, because when the prices are low on the grains, the cattle market is usually good," Vern said. "So it balances out."

"Twelve dollars a bushel isn't a bad price," Kathy said. "But when you consider the costs it can be pretty tough...It's a gamble...The last few years have been pretty tight, but you just tighten your belt and move on."

One of the things the Tormaschy family values most is the opportunity to be their own bosses.

Kathy added she thinks her sons will do a fine job carrying on the family legacy.

The work ethic they learned while growing up on the Tormaschy farm along with everything they learned from their parents will help continue the family's traditions.

"I attribute everything that I know to my parents, really, ever since I was little they've taught me how things worked," Tobey said. "It was always them or my grandparents that were kind of guiding me. I wouldn't be where I'm at or doing what I'm doing without them."